UPDATED 5:41 PM PT – Wednesday, November 3, 2021
A Catholic nun is speaking out against a Texas law banning religious or spiritual advisers from touching death row inmates or praying aloud during executions.
In a recent interview, Sister Barbara Bautista argued the law is adding insult to injury by denying inmates the comfort of a clergy person by their side. Bautista has signed onto a legal brief to the Supreme Court in support of a challenge to the statute, which the high court will consider later this month.
The challenge revolves around John Henry Ramirez, whose attorneys have argued is being deprived of his First Amendment right to practice his religion. “It is hostile toward religion, denying religious exercise at the precise moment it is most needed: when someone is transitioning from this life to the next,” said Seth Kretzer, Ramirez’ lawyer.
“I hope that if the state still is going to execute Mr. Ramirez, that at the very least that he be allowed his clergy person in the room, in the death chamber, he be allowed to pray out loud with him and that clergy person be allowed to actually physically touch Mr. Ramirez, to give him some human contact before he takes his last breath,” requested Bautista.
Ramirez’ execution and a few others have been put on hold while the Supreme Court considers his challenge to the policy.